Energy leaders commit to accelerating the journey to gender balance

UK energy leaders say they will step up action to improve gender diversity and inclusion in their companies to help the energy sector meet the challenges of the energy transition and reaching Net Zero.

They also pledge to ensure that women aren’t disadvantaged during the economic recovery from the pandemic and that diversity stays at the heart of the changing workplace.

‘Accelerating gender diversity and inclusion for the Net Zero challenge’ is the Third Annual Report of the Energy Leaders’ Coalition, a commitment by the heads of 16 of the UK’s top energy companies to improving gender diversity and inclusion within their own organisations and across the UK energy sector as a whole.

Between them, the 16 companies represent well over half of the UK energy workforce.

The report reviews progress made by the coalition in the past year, including:

  • publication of progress each company has made against its own and industry-wide targets on female representation
  • a signed commitment to ensure that diversity isn’t a casualty of Covid-19 and that the disruption is instead used as a springboard to accelerate progress. Steps include retaining flexible working and ensuring any change programmes are fair and transparent.
  • a review of the effectiveness of their STEM outreach to strengthen the talent base of women with these skills available to join the industry
  • expanding the coalition to welcome the heads of energy companies Cavendish Nuclear and Centrica; and also the CEOs of the regulators Ofgem and the Oil and Gas Authority to increase engagement in driving industry-wide progress on diversity.

A series of case studies in the report showcase examples of the policies and initiatives within companies that have made the most difference to improving their gender diversity statistics.

Analysis earlier this year by POWERful Women and PwC UK of the boards of the top c.80 UK energy companies reinforced the need to drive greater representation of women at senior levels.

It showed that at the time:

  • 24% of board seats were occupied by women
  • 14% of executive board seats were occupied by women
  • 28% of the UK’s top energy companies had no women on their boards at all
  • More than two-thirds (78%) had no women occupying executive board seats.

Ruth Cairnie, Chair of POWERful Women, said: “We’re delighted to publish the third annual report of the Energy Leaders’ Coalition, a timely acknowledgement from the very top of the UK energy industry that diversity must be at the heart of their journey to Net Zero and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We welcome the willingness of the CEOs to publish their data on progress towards their targets this year. Transparency and accountability are central to shifting the dial. And we are also delighted to welcome the CEOs of Ofgem and the Oil and Gas Authority to the coalition, to explore what role the regulators can play in advancing diversity and inclusion in the industry as a whole.”

Duncan Clark, Head of Region of Ørsted, member of the ELC and speaking at the launch of the report at POWERful Women’s Annual Conference on Tuesday, said: “As energy CEOs, we know that we are currently fishing from a far too shallow talent pool – our own and industry-wide data on the number of women in all our companies tells us that.

“Attracting and retaining the best people for the job of transforming our sector means we need a step change in diversity and inclusion. We, as leaders of the most significant UK energy employers, are determined to ramp up our activities in the coming year, to ensure that our actions match the public commitments we have already made.”

Nick Wayth, CEO of the Energy Institute, said: “POWERful women’s statistics earlier this year showed that the representation of women at the top of the energy sector is disappointingly low. We need an energy industry that reflects its customers and that taps the skills, innovation and leadership necessary for a successful energy transition.

I am pleased to see some examples of good practice that are making a difference to companies’ diversity and I am also pleased to see the commitment from company leaders to go further and go faster. I hope others in the sector will follow suit.”

POWERful Women’s 4th Annual Conference ‘Securing the diversity and inclusion we need for Net Zero – how to bring gender commitments to life’ takes place on 30th November and 1st December and will feature government, energy leaders and influencers at the heart of the energy transition and at the forefront of diversity and inclusion.

Image: Shutterstock

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